It's not always about the votes

October 23, 2013

The saying on The Circle is that with three votes you can get anything done. That's the thing that most frustrates Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach. She feels she can't get three votes for her ideas.

She's expressed that frustration several times at meetings; it's shared by her circle of supporters and friends. She also tends to allow that frustration to overflow on Facebook. Using social media to inform the public is a great idea – which she does – but it's probably not wise to get into a debate with people via Facebook. She is currently involved in one with a local radio show host.

She recently told me she has reached a dead end and is seriously looking at a way to separate coastal Sussex from the rest of the county. There are more practical ways to take action than secession.

For one, all council members could be elected under an at-large process. They could still represent a district but be elected by everyone in the county. Or, two at-large members could be added to council, which is not my favorite option.

Frustration should not deter Deaver from pushing forward with items on her agenda. If she is passionate about changing regulations, updating code, hiring a certified land planner and adding an adequate public facilities ordinance, she should stick with it until the cows come home.

Three votes is one thing, sticking by your ideas and pushing for reform is another.

And here is something she could make happen. The word “dwelling” in county code does not include manufactured housing, which is ludicrous. Someone on council needs to champion the idea of amending code to include manufactured housing under the definition of dwelling. It may as well be Councilwoman Deaver.

Serving as a councilman in Seaford, I learned a valuable lesson about not giving up on an idea. It took me years, lots of conversations and some education to get city staff and fellow council members to buy into the idea of building a walk along the Nanticoke River. You get things done by working with people, and not against them.

It's seems like a no-brainer now, but it was looked on as a crazy, off-the-wall idea when it was first introduced.


What is your vision?

At the Oct. 15 county council meeting, Deaver questioned her fellow council members who represent the middle and western side of the county about their vision of coastal Sussex.

She said District 3 in coastal Sussex is the one district that has experienced continuous growth over the past decade. She said the decisions made by three councilmen not in her district have a direct impact on life in the area. And in her opinion, many of those decisions have not been in the best interest of her district.

“What is your vision for the area?” she asked. “Is it going to be all motels, gas stations and homes? Where are we going? I don't know what your vision is.”

She didn't get an answer.


  • Ron MacArthur has lived and worked in Sussex County all his life. As a journalist for more than 40 years, he has covered everything from county and town meetings to presidential visits. He also has a unique perspective having served as an elected official and lived on both sides of the county.

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